Guest post by Erin Steiner
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an important part of your business’s website.
Do it properly and the search engine spiders will love you and your site will be listed on the front pages of Google, Bing, etc.
If you take a half-hearted approach or give in to the “black hat” methods that are out there, you could find that your site has been de-indexed completely. Nobody wants that!
If you want the search engines to love your site, here are some things you can do.
1. Stick to Relevant Content
Until last summer, the search engines didn’t care how you included your keywords and links so long as they were included.
This led to a bunch of webmasters trying to work the system by using a technique called “keyword stuffing,” which is exactly what it sounds like.
Last summer, Google rolled out the Penguin and Panda updates to its SEO algorithm.
These updates gave the bots and spiders the ability to ensure that keywords are contextually relevant and not overused.
If the bots or spiders decide you’re keyword stuffing, they will penalize your site by either dropping its ranking or deleting the site from the search engine altogether.
This is fantastic news for business owners who are trying to attract highly converting traffic. It’s terrible news for those spam bloggers that tried to take over the internet during the last few years.
2. Optimize Your Tags
Meta tags are tags that are located within the coding of your website. Your site visitors won’t see them, but the search engine bots and spiders will. The title tag is the first thing crawled by a search engine bot. include your most important keyword here, but make sure to do so contextually.
The description tag is the tag that gets included in your search engine results and is seen by web surfers. There is still debate as to whether or not the spiders place any value on this tag, but it’s still good to contextually include your keywords so that people surfing the web will see them.
Your keyword tag has been all but obliterated in terms of value by the spiders and bots because too many site owners used that tag to do some pretty serious keyword stuffing. Still, making sure your most important keywords are listed there is a good idea.
It is really easy to forget to use your header tags. The primary title of your website is encased in the h1 tag automatically. You usually have to tell your website to use the h2 and h3 tags manually with post titles, page titles, or with the subheaders within your copy and content. Search engines look at the header tags before they crawl the body of your copy, so optimizing these tags is just plain smart.
3. Write Attributions Properly
Attributions are extra descriptions that you add to your site’s code. There are two types of attributions that you need to include: image attributions and title attributions.
Image attributions are included with the images that you publish on your website. These are sometimes published as captions or descriptions, so make sure they are readable as well as keyword-relevant.
Title attributions are the snippets that you include when you link out to another site.
A lot of site publishers (particularly bloggers) skip the adding of a “Title” to their links.
By adding keywords to the link, though, you’re adding value to your outbound links, which helps raise your SEO value by quite a lot.
4. Sitemaps Are Your Friends
The sitemap that matters for SEO is called an “XML Sitemap,” and it is used by the search engines to properly index your site within search rankings. It is what will help get individual pages of your site as well as your home page indexed properly.
You sometimes have to submit XML Sitemaps manually, but some of the content management systems like WordPress have created plug-in that you can use to automatically submit a new XML Sitemap to Google every time you update your site. Take advantage of these plug-ins! They help you save time and work.
5. Practice Proper Social Media
Obviously you already know that your business needs to have accounts on the major social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. You’ve undoubtedly learned how to utilize those sites to help build your audience, attract more buyers, and increase customer loyalty. You can also use them to build links to your website, which helps your SEO ranking. The more links you have flowing in to your site from relevant sources, the better off your site will be.
This also means that you need to do some social bookmarking. The social networks have hit social bookmarking pretty hard, but it’s still worth it to make sure that your business has accounts with the major bookmarking networks like Delicious, StumpleUpon, and Digg. The trick to social bookmarking is not to bookmark your own work but to bookmark the work of others.
This attracts the other person’s attention, which, with any luck, will get them to check out your profile and website and then link to you as a thank you (either through their own sites or through the bookmarking system).
Basically, the trick to SEO is to pretend that your site is the product and the search engine is the person to whom you are marketing that product. You have to tell it how to find you, and you have to show that you are relevant and have something worthy to offer.
In return for giving it what it wants, the search spider will reward your site with a higher ranking. These techniques are just the beginning. Which techniques are your favorites?
About the author: Erin Steiner is a full-time freelance writer who has written extensively on reputation management services and a variety of other topics.